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The Gig Economy – Who and How?

A lot of ink has been spilt on topics like digital nomads, the gig economy and the creators’ economy, but how did it all start? 

Contrary to popular belief, digitalisation did not give rise to the gig economy, it only facilitated its growth, promoting players such as influencers, content creators –  be they videographers, fitness instructors promoting their courses on platforms like OnlyFans, musicians, content creators, cooks, and any possible activity you can think of. 

The term per se “gig” is deep-rooted in jazz music. The coinage was attributed to jazz musicians of 1915 who used to refer to their performances as “gigs”. Soon, the term was adopted by all creators and craftsmen. 

Applied to the current context of a booming online business sector, the term becomes synonymous with “project-based”, “freelance”, “flexible”. This raises a number of questions: “Is it worth chasing gigs rather than working in a traditional 9-to-5 corporate environment?” “How safe is it?” “How much can a gig worker make a month, a year?” “How do they get paid?”

The answer is “Yes”. In 2017, the UK government commissioned a study – Employment Practices in the Modern Economy – analysing the different ways employees could keep current with the work shifts birthed by the digital economy. According to Business Secretary Greg Clark, “[the] flexible labour market” generated “record numbers of people in work.”

US Legal & General conducted a similar study, looking at the earnings of gig creators and the diverse array of professions that run the gamut, from online content and service providers to construction workers. The research dismisses the myth that gig work is only a stop-gap measure or a temporary launchpad towards something more stable. 60% of the study participants confirmed that they make a living solely from gig projects. 

At the same time, those who juggle gig work with a full-time job acknowledged making 60%  or more of their earnings from gig work, while 23% of the respondents said they earn between $100,000 and $4 million per year. 

While earnings vary widely per profession, with 49% of gig workers earning below $50,000 per year, gig work does not fade in the face of traditional labour, on the contrary. Despite the huge gap in earnings, the longer someone continues in a gig profession, the higher their income. Also, six-figure earners are rather statistical outliers. Yet, this is not to say it’s impossible.

So, who earns more?

Statistics aside, let’s take a closer look at how much gig creators make. For example, influencers can make anywhere between $10 to as much as $10,000 per post. This range in payment also depends on the size of their network. Nano influencers will always be in the lower pay grade, while macro-influencers counting 500,000 to 1,000,000 followers will cash in millions a year. These are usually thought leaders posting well-thought-out content that educates and inspires.

Next on our list are affiliate marketers. Despite the market saturation, an astute affiliate marketer today can still make $59,060 per year on average, according to Glassdoor. However, commissions and other payment models, including “extras”, may add up to $58,000 and even $158,000. 

Moving on, bloggers make around $39,440 – $51,906, but this depends on a lot of factors, including the niche, domain authority, page authority, etc.

Finally, OnlyFans  content creators/publishers/entertainers can earn between $143,000 to $5.4 million a year, if not more – again, depending on the content put out there…

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